Local EPA Hearing on Gulf Drilling Permit

The Environmental Protection Agency has scheduled a public hearing on BHP Billiton Petroleum’s request to waive current emission regulations in pursuit of oil and natural gas in the Gulf of Mexico’s DeSoto Canyon. The hearing is scheduled for Thursday in Pensacola, about 125 miles from BHP’s operations.

The Austrailian oil company has already been granted a permit from the EPA to explore DeSoto Canyon with a roaming drilling rig. That permit was issued last June, though drilling has yet to happen.

The company’s current permit request would serve as an amendment to the original permit, and would allow for higher emissions of particulate matter, volatile organic compounds and greenhouse gasses.

The Pensacola public hearing is scheduled for Thursday, from 3 to 7 p.m., at the West Florida Public Library, 239 N. Spring St.

Public comment may also be mailed to the EPA, at : Art Hofmeister, EPA Region 4, APTMD, 61 Forsyth St., SW, Atlanta, GA 30303; or via email, at hofmeister.art@epa.gov; or, online, at www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=EPA-R04-OAR-2013-0416.

For more information on bhp’s permit request, visit www.epa.gov/region4/air/permits/ocspermits/bhpbilliton_ocs.html.